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The Puranic literature.
Trayyaruni, Kashyapa, Savarni, Akritavrana, Vaishampayana and Harita are the six masters of the Puranas. Each studied one of the six anthologies of the Puranas from Romaharshana, the father of Suta Gosvami and disciple of Shrila Vyasadeva. Suta Gosvami became a disciple of all six, and thus thoroughly learned the Puranas.
These are the ten characteristic topics of a Purana- creation of the universe, subsequent creation of the planets and their inhabitants, maintenance of all living beings, their protection, the rule of the Manus, the dynasties of great kings, activities of those kings, annihilation, the cause of the living entities’ involvement in material activities, and the supreme shelter.
These topics are all discussed in each of the cantos of Shrimad-Bhagavatam. It is not that a particular canto deals with just one particular subject. Nor are the topics discussed successively, one after another.
Creation (sarga) begins with the agitation of the modes of nature within the unmanifest, causing the mahat-tattva to arise.
Secondary creation (visarga) is the manifestation of all varieties of life forms, which result from the amalgamation of material desires. It is by the mercy of the Supreme Lord that the conditioned souls are allowed to desire materially and then act in this world.
Sustenance (vritti) primarily consists of the moving beings living upon the non-moving. For a human being, it means acting for one’s livelihood in a suitable manner, according to one’s nature.
The Supreme Lord affects protection (raksha) in His incarnations among the animals, humans, sages and demigods. By His activities, He protects the population of the universe, while destroying the enemies of Vedic culture.
In each manvantara (period of Manu), six kinds of personalities appear that are manifestations of Lord Hari, including- the ruling Manu, Indra, the great rishis and the amsha-avatara (partial incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead).
Royal dynasties originate from Lord Brahma, and they extend continuously through past, present and future.
There are four types of cosmic annihilation, as previously described. The actual cause of the manifested creation is the Supreme Lord. But, in one sense, the conditioned souls are the cause, because the creation takes place as a response to their material desires.
The ultimate shelter is the Supreme Absolute Truth. Material objects are manifested in myriad forms, along with corresponding names, but the essential ingredients are always present as the basis of these objects’ existence. For example, a pot may be made from clay, but even when it is a ‘pot’ it remains ‘clay’. Similarly, the Supreme Absolute Truth is always present with the created material body, because, after all, everything is an expansion of His energy.
The eighteen major Puranas (having 10 subjects, as opposed to the minor Puranas, which discuss only 5 subjects) are the Brahma, Padma, Vishnu, Shiva, Linga, Garuda, Narada, Bhagavata, Agni, Skanda, Bhavishya, Brahma-vaivarta, Markandeya, Vamana, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma and Brahmanda Puranas.